Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ — a political parable for our times (Opinion)

Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ — a political parable for our times (Opinion)




“Joker,” at its core, is the story of the “forgotten man,” the metaphoric displaced and disenfranchised white man whose goodwill has been abused and whose status has been reduced. A man who has been crushed underfoot by the elite, dragged down by equality-demanding feminists and climbed over by upstart nonwhite and immigrant masses.

Phillips clearly wants “Joker” to yank at the chains of a society that has increasingly found his shock-fueled style of storytelling less relevant and more problematic. (It’s worth noting that since Phillips’s breakthrough hit “The Hangover,” his box office totals have trended downward in almost linear fashion. )
This goal was made explicit in Phillips’s attacks on the “outrage culture” of the “far left” and his extended complaint to Vanity Fair that the anything-goes, douchebro comedy genre he helped launch had run aground on the iceberg of political correctness. “Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he told them. “Comedies don’t work anymore,” he said, because all of the comedians are afraid of offending people. “So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent… Oh, I know, let’s take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head.'”
After watching “Joker,” it’s easy to decode what Phillips really meant in this quote, and it’s the same thing that fired “SNL” cast member Shane Gillis meant when he excused his repeated use of racist, misogynist and homophobic slurs as “pushing boundaries.”

It draws from the same well of resentment that Trump strums with his racist rhetoric at his rallies — the fear of no longer being at the center of the political, social and cultural universe, with everyone who isn’t you positioned at its perceived edges. (After all, being racist, sexist and anti-gay only “pushes boundaries” if you define yourself as “normal” and define nonwhite, non-male and non-straight people as marginalized outsiders.)

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